Polar Patterns - The Polar Seas from a Bird's Perspective

Ever-changing and ever new: In the Arctic and Antarctica, frost and the sun, waves, water and the wind create perpetually changing tints and shades, shapes and patterns. In order to capture the beauty of this interplay, one must take-off and take a bird’s eye view on the polar landscapes. A perspective that only polar researchers like AWI sea ice physicists on their routine survey flights above the ice are lucky enough to slip into. On each of those flights, one or two photographic cameras keep record of the landscape at the scientists’ feet. Pointing vertically downwards, the camera is mounted in the hull of the research aircraft or installed in the torpedo shaped body of the EM-bird – a sea ice thickness measurement device that can be dragged by the research aircraft or a helicopter. The past years of research did hence not only result in new scientific knowledge about sea ice, but also in truly fascinating images, picked by AWI sea ice physicist Stefan Hendricks.

News

Open waters around the North Pole: Arctic sea ice in retreat

Arctic Ocean

Open waters around the North Pole: Arctic sea ice in retreat

This September, the Arctic sea ice extent has shrunk to 4.1 million square kilometres (sq km)-the second lowest in the history of satellite measurements. It is exceeded only by the all-time record low of 3.4 million sq km in 2012. "Once again, a massive loss of sea ice in the Arctic," says Prof. Lars Kaleschke from Universität Hamburg's Center for Earth System Research and Sustainability (CEN). His colleague Prof. Christian Haas from the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) confirms: "The trend continues." Currently, the Northeast and Northwest Passages are navigable at the same time.

Researchers simulate the emergence of leads in sea ice

Sea-ice modelling

Researchers simulate the emergence of leads in sea ice

Scientists from the Alfred-Wegener-Institute (AWI) and the University of Hamburg have succeeded in realistically simulating the emergence of large channels in the Artic sea-ice in a computer model. Two approaches were decisive for this success: On the one hand, the researchers had increased the spatial resolution of the FESOM AWI sea-ice ocean model. On the other hand, they were able to improve the numerical solution to the equation so that the simulation of the lead formation holds up well when compared to real sea-ice satellite data. They reported this success in a study that appeared online in the professional

Ice algae: The engine of life in the central Arctic Ocean

Food web

Ice algae: The engine of life in the central Arctic Ocean

Algae that live in and under the sea ice play a much greater role for the Arctic food web than previously assumed. In a new study, biologists of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, showed that not only animals that live directly under the ice thrive on carbon produced by so-called ice algae. Even species that mostly live at greater depth depend to a large extent on carbon from these algae. This also means that the decline of the Arctic sea ice may have far-reaching consequences for the entire food web of the Arctic Ocean. Their results have been published online now in the



Blog

What caused the ring structure? On exploration …

AWI Ice Blog

What caused the ring structure? On exploration …

Blog post by Graeme Eagles and the WEGAS team The WEGAS team has been very excited over the last few days that their work, and polar science in general, has garnered so much interest in the global media. The reason for this of course was the serendipitous discovery of a puzzling ring structure on the […]

Author: Olaf Eisen